Looking at the story of Alex O’Loughlin – Through the eyes of a fangirl (Part 4)

Dissecting an article

I am interrupting my story on Alex’s life here a bit, to again illustrate my point of reference on evaluating articles I read. I really do like articles a lot and they are a great source of information. However, I have a problem with how some parts of them are constructed. Especially where assumptions are made.

I want to start off by just reminding everyone of the fact that I am not saying that Alex does or doesn’t suffer from either ADD or OCD, or that he has never been diagnosed or treated for any one of the two. I just want to give you my perceptions of this specific interview regarding him and these conditions. Some questions were asked after things I said in Part 3, you can read it here.

The article I am looking at for this specific analysis is from GQ magazinePublished 30 Mar 2011, Words by Brendan Shanahan, Photographed by Robbie Fimmano. It is a long interview and I am not going to discuss it in full detail, but only focus on the section that deals with mental health issues.

This interview is for the most part questions from the interviewer and answers from Alex. But every once in a while the interviewer just makes a statement without us knowing what was really asked when Alex gave a specific answer. This first part of the article I quote, is just to set the mood for what follows.

O’Loughlin’s public image — the motorcycle-riding, whip-cracking, fire-fighting, former drain unblocker — is tempered by hints of a certain fragility. In past interviews he has spoken of dark times during the early days in LA — sleeping on a friend’s floor and feeling like it was all a waste of time. When I ask if he has ever had a problem with depression he laughs uproariously, finding the suggestion ridiculous.

“I think I’m quite sensitive. Maybe it’s what allows me to be an actor. I’m pretty resilient but then it gets to a point where, once I feel defeated, it’s like I hang my head. In the couple of times it’s happened, once I’ve hung my head it weighs a ton. It’s really difficult to raise it back up again and kick on. And there was a moment there — and I’m sure every artist goes through this — where I was like, ‘You’re a fucking loser. You’re not even very good at what you do. You’re a fool as well for chasing a dream that has no substance.’ It was more an existential crisis than a specific clinical condition.”

Clearly, the interviewer is a bit confused about clinical depression and somebody being depressed over bad situations. I think Alex gave him a  brilliant answer in the end. Then the interviewer goes on with another statement:

He may not suffer depression, but O’Loughlin has struggled with other issues. As an adult he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). But when I ask how these have affected his life, he grows cagey. Once again I am forced to reassure him, but he eventually answers the question with candour.

Please note that he stated that Alex was diagnosed as an adult. If I read what he wrote correctly, he did not ask him the question about the diagnosis himself at this time or received an answer from Alex about it. For me, it would have been much more satisfying if he did indeed asked Alex the question and not just make a statement. I have seen statements like these in other interviews that were simply not true and were something the interviewer got from assumptions others have made in the past.

My question here is – If Alex has been forthcoming about these facts in other interviews, why is he cagey now? Was it not just another “Oh Shit” moment of “Please not this again? Why do they keep hammering on this subject?” Did Alex really know he was answering a question about him being diagnosed with both these conditions in adulthood, or was he just answering what he thought was a question about his previous remarks of having symptoms of these conditions in early life?

“I still have ADD. It’s something I’ve learned to live with. It affects people in different ways. It affected my learning when I was younger and I was never medicated for it. It was something that did make me feel like I was different and apart from everyone, made me feel isolated. Every girlfriend I’ve ever had has had a moment when they’ve gone crazy at me because they’ll say something and, literally, two or three minutes later I’ll respond. People think I’m rude or ignoring them but I’m not at all, I retain everything. It’s just the way my brain chemistry works. I’m actually a really loving, attentive person.”

Anybody can see some of the symptoms of ADD in Alex when he is doing interviews. He fidgets a lot and shows a lot of nervous energy. He also looks around a lot when there are distractions and movements around him. He copes with it rather well by a technique he uses a lot during interviews. He repeats the question that has been asked. This method helps him to stay focused and also to think about the answer for a bit.

As I have mentioned in Part 3 as well, a career in acting would actually be a good choice for such a person. They can be creative, be intellectually stimulated, and be physically active, all in one. Being a banker might become very frustrating for them.

Alex says “I was never medicated for it” To me, that means he has never in his life been medicated for ADD up until this article in 2011 and not just in his childhood. My interpretation could be wrong, I know, but that’s how it sounds to me.

Another thing that made me laugh a bit here, is that half the men are described by his statement about him responding late to girlfriends. My own father is like that when he concentrates on something else. At first, you will not get an answer out of him and then suddenly he will realize he is being asked something and responds. My dad might also not indicate that he heard you at first but will just start thinking about an answer to reply with and suddenly give you his response. And I can promise Alex, that is not just a trait of ADD sufferers, that is a man thing in general. The subject of how men and women’s brain physically differ and how it affects differences in their behaviour, is a story on its own. 🙂

At this stage of the interview, things really start to get woolly for me.

The OCD, says O’Loughlin, is now mostly a thing of the past. In the calming atmosphere of Hawaii, his childhood days of taking hours to tie his shoes just right are a fading memory. However, he does admit to having occasional obsessive urges. “If I get OCD about something, I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I have to do it.’” He pauses, laughs and adds, “So you’ve just ascertained that I should be imprisoned and medicated.”

With OCD as with most mental conditions, when you are correctly diagnosed, it is something you carry for life. You either get medication or therapy or both. You learn to live with it and cope with it and there is hardly ever a cure for it – You do not get mostly over it! Again the interviewer makes a statement of how calming the atmosphere in Hawaii is and how this makes symptoms a fading memory of the past. If that was so, people with mental disorders would just have to move to more tranquil places and then they will be cured.

Something else the interviewer do touch on that I know was mentioned by Alex himself in other interviews. The fact that it took him a long time to do his shoelaces, hardly warrants a diagnosis of OCD. One symptom does not make a disease.

And then the interviewer talks aboutoccasional obsessive urges which does not really describe a OCD sufferer to me: Alex says: “If I get OCD about something, I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I have to do it.’”. It sounds more like a statement about seeing something and going after it and pursuing it. Not a ritual of repeating something to calm an anxiety that can take hours from your day…….

Some other factors that has got nothing to do with this article, but make me query this OCD diagnosis of Alex, I want to list here:
• He travelled the world as a young adult and most probably lived in conditions far from 5 star accommodation quality, while doing it – Hardly something that someone with OCD would easily do.
• He attended NIDA fulltime and held a job at the same time. – Again something that would not be seem as easy for a OCD sufferer to accomplish.
• He lived a nomadic lifestyle, sleeping on friends floors and couches during his first year of trying his luck in Hollywood – Strange thing to be prepared to do by a OCD suffer
• During the months when Moonlight was filmed he worked 16-17 hours days on the set and hardly slept enough. – Very hard for me see that a person who are anxious and needs to live with rituals can cope with.
• And now also with the making of Hawaii Five-0, he is working at a fast pace and doing long hours, carrying the load of being called the number #1 on the call sheet – Very hard for me to comprehend that somebody suffering from OCD can actually cope with it.

Was he really diagnosed with OCD by a psychiatrist in his adult years? If so, that person has given him the best treatment he could find, because he is really coping rather  well with it all. He also made some brave lifestyle and career choices of pursuing acting as his craft. Something that is very stressful and very much done in public …….AND on top of that Alex is one of the most touchy feely affectionate  and hands-on celebrities I know. Forever hugging and kissing fans (strangers), co-workers, friends, girlfriends and even everybody’s dogs. (And not only since he moved to tranquil Hawaii)  Always ready to shake hands, sign autographs and goof around in general! Maybe also the reason why we as fans adore him so…….but not really behaviour generally associated with OCD sufferers.

The divorce of O’Loughlin’s parents at a young age undoubtedly contributed to his difficult childhood. Born in Canberra, O’Loughlin spent his younger years shuttling between his mother’s home in the capital and his father’s in Sydney. During high school he admits he was a tearaway. I ask whether his undiagnosed ADD may have contributed to him playing truant, getting expelled and dropping out in his mid-teens.

Here again the interviewer is making a statement of things he has heard or read and do not ask the question. He did not ask Alex to confirm that he was indeed born in Canberra and at what age he started shuttling between his parents. Maybe he asked the questions about it in a previous interview; I don’t know, but I always wonder when just a statement is made, how much the interviewer really confirmed the facts with the person he interviewed or how much he is going on hearsay. If he said something like, “in a previous interview, Alex and I discussed where he was born…..etc”, it would be more believable to me.

Something from earlier in the interview made me realise once again how little control the person being interviewed, has over the final product of the article.

When I share some of my own fears with O’Loughlin, he recommends that I read Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. For a time he extols the virtues of the classic text before coming to a sudden halt. “Can I ask you a question?” he says, not leaving any time to answer. “Am I going to sound like a cunt when this interview comes out?”

This frankly phrased query arrives seemingly from nowhere. It’s asked partly in jest — another of the actor’s self-deprecating asides that scatter our conversation — and partly in an attempt to defuse any accusation of pretentiousness. But there is a part of it that feels genuine, too. It’s difficult to know exactly how to respond. I do my best to reassure him (“Not unless you are a cunt,” I reply, which gets a laugh) and the interview continues. Nevertheless, I am left with 
a sense that Alex O’Loughlin is a bit of a livewire.

Another general observation about this article that I want to mention here, is that Alex “sounds” kind of pissed off and annoyed during the interview. I do not know if it was just a “bad” day for him or if he was just annoyed at the interviewer or maybe both. I guess the photoshoot also happened either on the same day or very close to it. He looked gorgeous as always, but just a bit pissed off on the photos to me. For me there is a “broody” look and then there is a general “you are irritating the shit out of me look” – well he looks irritated and annoyed to me.

Something else that occurred to me is the fact that although he might be very guarded on certain subjects in his life, at some stages he is actually naively forthcoming in sharing personal things like emotions and his general outlook in life.

I want to emphasize again that I am not making any conclusions about Alex’s mental conditions or saying that he has never said anything in regards to it in other interviews. If anybody can direct me to articles where he himself answered some of these questions, I would really appreciate it.

With all of the above, I am merely trying to explain further how I read articles to find information that is as close to the truth as possible. My aim is always to seek the truth and pass over things that leave any doubts, or are not clearly explained. (I always take them into account, but never see them as true facts until proven otherwise) For me, the things that I can see, also carries more weight than what is said by third parties and I always try to match the two.

I want to repeat my final words of Part 3 again – For me, it seems that there were a lot of issues for Alex to cope with in childhood and that he felt out-of-place at times. These facts make me respect and admire him even more. He had to work through his problems, find a place for himself in life, and carve out a road to success with hard work and a lot of dedication.

…………….to be continued

20 Comments

Filed under Alex O´Loughlin, HiStory

20 responses to “Looking at the story of Alex O’Loughlin – Through the eyes of a fangirl (Part 4)

  1. really great article… that explaind a lot for me, some thing I was really un-sure of… thanks for this really in-depth study of Alex and his emotions…

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  2. Jill VanDuyn

    You did a really great job here. Thanks so much.

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  3. It is a good thing that at least the other one of us can form intelligent thoughts and put them on paper (or our screens). Truly well argumented and written. Good work partner 🙂

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  4. Extremely well thought out and beautifully phrased. BRAVA my friend

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  5. Linda E.

    This is a very informative article. However, as much as I adore Alex (bless his heart), I’ve had an issue with a word he has used a few times, including the GQ Style interview. It is “c*nt”. For North Americans, it refers to the vagina, and is a derogatory term used against women.
    Since, in this instance, it was used in an Australian publication, Alex didn’t feel the need for self-censorship, if the word is commonly used by Australians.
    I would appreciate any input from the Australian members. Does the word have the same meaning in Australia as it does in North America, or is it generally meant the way we use the word “jerk”? With what directly followed that passage, Alex might have felt he would be thought of as pretentious, sensitive and/or introspective. There are worse things than being sensitive or introspective. LOL
    Regardless, Alex is an amazing individual, wonderful actor and all round good egg, even with his Aussie earthiness.

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    • FOYeur

      Hi Linda E, If I look at the context of the article I would think Alex meant “pompous ass” by it. (Then that again might mean something totally different to me than the next person :grin:)
      Alex himself once said his worst habit is cursing…. 🙂

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    • Speaking as an Australian the C word here doesn’t have anywhere near the negativity related to it in other parts of the world, unless we’re specificially referring to that area (for example if we’re getting intimate with someone and using it in a sort of foreplay/talk dirty to me kind of way) we don’t even really associate it with a part of the female anatomy. For a lot of Australians who use it, and not all do, some Aussies do find it offensive as a curse word, it can often be a term of endearment, a friendly greeting between mates – “What have ya been up to ya c*nt, how’s it going”…that sort of thing.

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      • Andrea_Briz

        Tend to agree with Emerald although I don’t really like the word and I don’t use it myself. Alex isn’t the only Aussie to swear alot – it’s kind of an Aussie thing to do and we do use swear words in conversation, as Emerald says. I remember when the article came out and I read that bit and I was a bit taken aback. Personally, I would view that word as being ‘high on the swearing scale’ but then I am not someone who swears that much 🙂 Seeing the word in print would jar with me more than it perhaps would with others, I guess (however, I wasn’t offended or anything, just a bit surprised it made it into print). All in all, it just makes him seem more ‘real’ and natural, which is my impression of him anyway. And, as FOYeur pointed out, Alex does admit to swearing being one of his bad habits 🙂

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        • With swearing I always go by the general rule that there’s a time and a place. If you heard the way I talk among the majority of my IRL friends, I’m eff this and c*nt that almost constantly, I swear like a wharfie among certain groups of people. The same can’t be said for my family or my family in law, or most of my friends online (although I will occasionally drop the F bomb every now and then). I adjust the way I speak depending on the company I’m in. Although it’s funny, I have a very strong South Australian accent, which means I apparently sound slightly posh and English. I’ve had people say I don’t sound like I’m swearing, even when I am, because I’m so well spoken, even me saying the word ‘f*ck’ sound polite. Go figure *LOL*

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  6. I’m sorry to have ask this, but can you remove the picture of Alex hugging Sabine. We don’t mind those photos being shared, but not in a situation like this where Alex’s private life is being delved into. Share them all you like when it comes to promoting Donate Life, but not for something like this. There are other photos you can use where Alex is showing affection to fans. Please.

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  7. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to be equating OCD with the more stereotypical ‘germophobe’ type presentation of the condition. Not all OCD presents this way. Feeling compelled to spend hours tying your shoe laces just right can be a sign of OCD, not being able to step on cracks can also be a sign of OCD. When I was growing up as a child with ADHD (I was diagnosed around 1974/74 at the age of 2-3, which is extremely young, especially for those times, but I had a very severe form of the disorder), I did develop a lot of obsessive and compulsive rituals to help me cope with the isolation and inner turmoil/feelings of anxiety that stemmed from both the ADHD and an anxiety disorder I also developed as a result. I was compelled to not step on cracks or lines, getting dressed I had to do everything from left to right, if I made a mistake I had to get completely undressed and start again, I had to fold my socks a certain way or else I’d panic until it was done properly. All of these were rituals designed to stave off anxiety and make me feel safe and calm. It’s also what lead me to developing anorexia nervosa at the age of 8 (NOTE! I am not saying Alex himself has an eating disorder, at all, I’m just explaining my own experiences with OCD tendencies). Gradually my rituals began to extend to the way I ate, and everything became about certain numbers – 3,5,9 and multiples thereof – I could eat exactly 9 peas, if I lined them up in rows of 5, I could take exactly 3 bites of a potato and no more, that sort of thing. Eventually the anorexic compulsions of restricting my food intake, and losing weight did sort of override the OCD rituals and compulsions, but they still came back from time to time. I remained sick with anorexia for close to 25 years, before going into recovery (I’ve been in recovery now for around 8 years). I still occasionally have problems with counting rituals, and will start to experience anxiety if my plate doesn’t have the exact number of each food item on it, I still have problems with food shopping on occasion, where I feel compelled to either have to choose the exact right item (despite the packages being all the same) or to check every barcode and only pick the ones that end in a 3,5 or 9. Alex saying he gets OCD urges where he’s like “OMG, I have to do it”, is very much what I’m like when I go into one of my ritualistic modes. I know pulling every single item of the shelf in the supermarket and inspecting each packet individual is nuts, I know sitting in the aisle getting more and more panicked because I can’t discern which packet is the right one is above and beyond embarrassing, but inside my head my brain is yelling at me ‘You have to do this, you have to’, and if I try and just walk away I feel all panicky and compelled to go back and finish what I was doing. Even posting stuff to the AOL Fans 4 Donate Life blog I feel compelled to work in numbers of 3, 5, or 9. If I give examples in anyone post then it will be either 3, 5, or of my concentration is good on the day, 9. If I only put up say 2, or 4, or even 6 different examples (videos, articles, stories, etc) it feels wrong, and I start feeling compelled to correct it.

    OCD is far more than just not liking dirt, or not being able to hug someone or shake hands. If someone feels compelled to repeatedly perform certain rituals, if they get the urge that ‘OMG I have to do this’, then that can be construed as OCD tendencies at the very least, and quite possible OCD. Just an opinion from someone who’s been there. 🙂

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    • FOYeur

      Hi Emerald,
      I want to start off by once again saying that one of the most important reason I have been following Alex as a fan is his humanity. Through some of the statements made by others that actually know him and have worked with him, it seems his life have been far from plain sailing. He has managed to overcome a lot of obstacles to get where he is today. I admire him greatly for that and that is why I made the decision to write his story as seen through my eyes in a number of chapters (It was not a decision, easily done or lightly made).
      For me personally it does not matter if he does or does not suffer from OCD. It would make no difference in how I feel about him.
      Thank you for sharing your story with us. From what I have seen and read about you as well (even before today), I get the same kind of feeling that I get from Alex – a person that have to face a lot of obstacles in life, but still don’t let that put you down to pursue life in its fullest. And for that I admire you just as much as I do him. Although I do not know you at all, from what I have seen of you on many forums since my early days as a fan was that you have always been open and honest about who you are. You are one of Alex’s kindest and most generous fans I have seen. The way you handle new fans by helping them when they are misled by people setting up fake account on Twitter and Facebook. Always being kind, even when people make silly or stupid statements, you answer them with respect and kindness. Always prepared to get your hands ‘dirty’ so to speak to help to expose these dishonest people.
      Your work with donate life also speaks for itself. I wrote in my article about Organ Donation, that people like you, are the hands and feet that takes the course that Alex himself cannot attend to on a daily basis, that much further and give it life.
      I think for one thing Alex can be very proud to have a fan like you and maybe it also says a lot about him for attracting such wonderfully kind people as fans. (I think since early on I actually became a fan of his fans and that made me want to know more of him)
      I am sorry if the main thing you got out of my article was that I see OCD sufferers as “stereotypical germophobe” people. The part about him being so generous with his fans was actually added at the very last minute. I wanted to lighten up an otherwise very gloomy article with his warm personality. Maybe I should have left it out, but at that point, I just wanted to get back to what a wonderfully loving individual Alex is to us all, by doing so.
      My main aim with the article was to just let us think a little further to what the media tend to dish up about Alex. Query it a bit. They are not his fans and they want to sensationalise things to sell the magazines and papers. I for one do not want to invade his privacy but rather want to know if what I read is the truth or not.
      I stated it more than once that I do not know or claim to know anything about his personal life or his mental state. I just read things and I see things and I want to make sense of them, by comparing the two.
      You as a person that have battle this condition for so many years, can therefor help me out a bit. This is what I wrote: “Was he really diagnosed with OCD by a psychiatrist in his adult years? If so, that person has given him the best treatment he could find, because he is really coping rather well with it all.”
      And I meant what I wrote, that if he was so diagnosed, he really got great treatment for it, because he made very bold lifestyle choices. (Maybe my personal command of the English language prevented me from putting it in more understandable terms?)
      If he was diagnosed and treated for OCD he must have a lot of confidence in his recovery to tackle the world in such a public profession. The perception I get from OCD sufferers it that they would much rather prefer a lifestyle that are more controlled and not with a lot of stress. Stress and uncertainty triggers anxiety and anxiety triggers the OCD sufferer’s rituals, if I understand it correctly. Their rituals calm them and kind of put their life back in order so to speak (Put it in my own words of trying to explain how I see it)
      A life as an actor just seems so uncontrolled or controllable by themselves to me. They have to be prepared to live a life by schedules set by big studios well in advance (big money and a lot of peoples time depend on it). Directors and producers demand that they do as they say and especially with somebody of Alex’s importance on Moonlight and H5-0, he needs to be there and focused, all the time under highly stressful circumstances. He obviously also need to be prepared to travel to strange places living on the few things you can pack in a bag. All these situations just seem to be high risk factors with somebody that would like to live their life in more certain circumstances?
      To me he is just a wonderful individual, regardless of anything else……

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      • Thank you so very, very much for your kind words. You’re right, it shouldn’t matter one way or another what diagnosis Alex does or doesn’t have, and the press do like to sensationalise things. On the other hand I have heard fans saying how disappointed they’d be if Alex did or does have some sort of mental health issues, their attitude seems to be that somehow Alex having issues takes away from him as a person, or more to the point takes away their idealised image of him as a person – as if he’s not allowed to be human and have faults. Sometimes I tend to get more than a little annoyed and have a tendency to drag out my soapbox whenever the issue of Alex’s ADD or OCD (past or present) comes up, mainly because despite all the efforts of mental health advocacy groups there is still a LOT of stigma attached to these sorts of issues, and sadly there are still Alex fans out there who go into fits of pearl clutching vapours at the mere thought that their precious Alex could possibly be anything but 100% perfect, no faults allowed.

        And thank you again for what you said about me, I’m seriously blushing right now. ❤

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  8. I am a ADHD diagnosed. It’s not a bad thing to know about, I now know of why I do certain things, and why I like routine, but.. I am trying to concentrate on reading this articles and comments, but I can’t with that gif on the side, Alex and the girl from Oyster Farmer!! OY!!
    I will maybe will read it on Monday or later cuz I want to.. but on another day!!
    I want to continue my tour, I miss it! 😉

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